The Slaves of Solitude by Nicholas Wright Hampstead Theatre From 20 October - 25 November 2017
1943, Henley-on-Thames. Miss Roach is forced by the war to flee London for the Rosamund Tea Rooms boarding house, which is as grey and lonely as its residents. From the safety of these new quarters, her war now consists of a thousand petty humiliations, of which the most burdensome is sharing her daily life with the unbearable Mr Thwaites.
But a breath of fresh air arrives in the form of a handsome American Lieutenant and things start to look distinctly brighter... Until, that is, a seeming friend moves into the room adjacent to Miss Roach’s, upsetting the precariously balanced ecosystem of the house...
Nicholas Wright’s new play weaves a fascinating blend of dark hilarity and melancholy from Patrick Hamilton’s much-loved story about an improbable heroine in wartime Britain.
Clive Francis is unforgettable as the boarding house bully, spilling over with vicious joviality and florid circumlocutions: “did’st thou imbibe mighty potions to pursue the great god Bacchus in his unholy rites?” He is a ghastly reminder that not all abuse is overtly sexual. Susannah Clap, Sunday Observer Clive Francis brilliantly captures the brittle aggression of an ageing xenophobe whose heart is melted by an autumn romance. Lloyd Evans, The Spectator We are supposed to hate Mr Thwaites, and good heavens Clive Francis makes that a pleasure to do as he steps over the line from outspoken to malicious, decorating his speech with the kind of cod-Elizabethan flourish that suggests he sees himself forever as the star of the show. It's a magnificent turn. Dominic Maxwell, The Times Mr Thwaites, whose monstrous vigour and narrow-minded right-wing gusto is vividly captured by Clive Francis. Thwaites systematically persecutes Miss Roach with poisonous digs at her failure to find a husband and at her mild pro-Russian sympathies and by his incessant jocular mangling of the English language. “Dost thou anticipate a fellow-devourer of the evening victuals?” he asks, knowing full well that Miss Roach is embarking on a relationship with “Lootenant” Dayton Pike, a GI who, in Wright’s adaptation becomes African-American (our “dusky combatant from distant shores” as Thwaites needlingly puts it.) Paul Taylor,The Independent Clive Francis, is venomously good as Mr Thwaites. Tom Wicker, TimeOut